tonight on "nightline," empire state shootout. panic and bloodshed outside one of new york city's most popular tourist attractions. one a shooter opens fire, leegd to a police gun fight. two dead and nine injured. think yourself thin? can you get the affects of gastric bypass simply by imagining you had the surgery? one woman's journey to lose major pounds, using only the power of her mind. and, in dude they trust. the path to enlightningment? some say the answer lies with the star of "the big lebowski." inside the bathrobe wearing church of the latter day dude. >> announcer: from the global resources of abc news, with
terry moran, cynthia mcfadden and bill weir in new york city, this is "nightline," august 24th, 2012. >> good evening, i'm bill weir. well, the crowds were thick in the shadow of the empire state building this morning when a gunman sent tourists and pedestrians running for cover in the streets. while the shooter and his intended target both lost their lives, the hail of police bullets and the density of the crowd left nine jourped in the gun fight. abc's ron claiborne has more of the latest details. >> i just got shot. rush me to the hospital. >> reporter: it is this scene today, a shooting in the shadows of the empire state building. one of the world's most iconic tourist attractions, that sent thousands of visitors and locals running through the streets of new york city. >> three, four and five. four people shot. >> multiple people shot at that location and shots still firing at this time.
>> reporter: the landmarke, visited by 4 million people each year, is now part of a crime scene. >> heard multiple gunshots. i'd say about 12 of them. thought they were fire crackers at first. >> reporter: eyewitnesses described the chaos and horror. >> i saw a woman sitting up against the building with her foot who had been shot. >> reporter: as they ran, gunshots fired overhead. >> around 9:00 in the morning, i was on the crosstown bus. >> reporter: this man watched in terror from a bus. >> i heard six or seven gunshots. i immediately looked up and i saw a stampede of hundreds of people running north. >> reporter: the incident left two dead and nine injured. and countless bystanders in total fear. it all began at 9:00 in the morning, when jeffrey johnson, who lost his job at a clothing importer a year ago, targeted his former colleague, steven ercolino. >> a former employee of a
company at that address shot and killed a former coworker, striking him three times. >> reporter: next, seen in this police video, the gunman calmly walked down fifth avenue and pulled his weapon from a black bag, pointing it at the cops. police believe johnson tried to fire his weapon, but it jammed. then officers shot him from eight feet away. the suspect went down in a hail of bullets as bystanders tried to run for cover. >> as the two officers approached johnson, he pulled his .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol from his bag and fired on the officers, who returned fire, killing him. >> reporter: the cops shot johnson from about eight feet away. in the barrage of gun fire, nine bystanders were hit by bullets. >> i was really scared. >> reporter: robert was shot in the arm. >> the way the guy was standing, there was no way it would have been the guy. it was the police officers that hit the people that got hit. >> reporter: according to law
enforcement, some of all were struck by police officers. but none have life threatening injuries. they were hit by one of the 16 bull lel bullets. police goal was met, saving innocent lives without taking any. since 9/11, new york city has placed more police protection around its most prominent buildings. any that might be terrorist targets. comes have no way to assess a shooter's motive initially or know how much of a threat that person is. john shane says police are trained to what he calls neutralize the threat. even if by stander bystanders m risk. >> if you shoot someone, hit them in the arm or the leg -- >> reporter: where are you aiming? >> center mass. the largest part of the body and one of the areas that have vital organs that are going to drop somebody. >> reporter: this is the second fatal police shooting this month near a crowded manhattan tourist
site. just two weeks ago, police shot to debt a knife-wielding man near times square, as horrified tourists watched and in some cases videotaped it. last year, before johnson lost his job, he and ercolino had a physical confrontation at work. both men filed harassment reports with police. in his, ercolino alleged that johnson said, "i'll kill you." according to wabc, johnson felt that ercolino did not sell enough. this dispute led to his layoff and ultimately erupted in violence today, on a crowded city street. for "nightline," i'm ron claiborne in new york city. >> our thanks to ron. coming up next, is it possible to slim down by simply convincing your brain you've had gastric bypass surgery? one woman's journey to think thin, next. ♪
you know, ronny... folks who save hundreds of dollars by switching to geico sure are happy. and how happy are they jimmy? i'd say happier than a bodybuilder directing traffic. he does look happy. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more on car insurance. and every day since, two years ago, the people of bp made a commitment to the gulf. we've worked hard to keep it. bp has paid over twenty-three billion dollars to help people and businesses who were affected, and to cover cleanup costs. today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy -- and many areas are reporting their best tourism seasons in years. we've shared what we've learned with governments and across the industry so we can all produce energy more safely. i want you to know, there's another commitment bp takes
just as seriously: our commitment to america. bp supports nearly two-hundred-fifty thousand jobs in communities across the country. we hired three thousand people just last year. bp invests more in america than in any other country. in fact, over the last five years, no other energy company has invested more in the us than bp. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. today, our commitment to the gulf, and to america, has never been stronger. with a wide variety, you can mix and match all day. scampi, grilled, the fried -- there's nothing better. [ male announcer ] at last, red lobster's endless shrimp is back, but only for a limited time, for just $14.99. try as much as you like, any way you like, like new parmesan crusted shrimp or new teriyaki grilled shrimp, all with salad and unlimited cheddar bay biscuits, for just $14.99. [ ryan ] they can try everything. they love it. i'm ryan isabell. i'm a server for red lobster, and i sea food differently.
>> announcer: "nightline" continues from new york city with bill weir. >> for years, hypnotists were associated mostly with fair grounds and variety shows. but in recent years, the trans-like state has emerged as a more wildly accepted form of behavioral therapy. supporters say it can fix the body by changing the mind. but what about tricking the mind into shrinking the body? here's abc's matt gutman with an encore presentation. >> one, two, and three. close your eyes. >> reporter: clarissa is undergoing a radical weight loss procedure. >> you're aware of the incisions being made. >> reporter: she's hoping to lose 140 pounds, simply by convincing her body that it's had gastric bypass surgery.
but without ever going under the knife. >> you can feel that it's time to put that band on your belly. >> reporter: it's called gastric bypass hypnosis. the cost is around $1,200, while the real surgery can cost up to $35,000. what was the sensation like? >> it was -- it was surreal, almost. you know, it was that hollowness and it was almost like dreaming. >> reporter: clarissa has battled with her weight her entire life. is that your favorite? >> yeah. >> reporter: the diets she's tried worked on temporarily. but now, waki weighing 340 poun she knows she needs to lose weight some how. what was the final moment that you realized that you have to lose weight? >> to have so many insurance companies turn me down. >> reporter: six in all. forcing her to pay a premium of $1,200 a month and accept one very scary term. morbid obesity. >> i never really considered
myself in that category until i saw it in black and white. >> reporter: so, she went to see rena greenberg, whose program claims weight loss results for much less than a actual surgery. about $1,200. >> deeper and deeper. >> reporter: the price including her cds and this weight loss juice. bottom's up. oh, yeah. >> you like it? >> reporter: i mean -- greenberg says the hip notice works and clients like clarissa will no longer crave sugary snacks. she will no longer have a craving? she'll say, that does not about tiz me anymore? >> that's absolutely it. the old program is, chocolate, give me more. it's never enough. and the new program is, you know, that chocolate, it might taste good, but i don't care about it. >> reporter: every year, more than 220,000 americans undergo
painful and expensive surgical procedures do have their stomachs removed, repo situationed or constricted. the promise of surgery-free, inexpensive reprogramming of the mind could hold tremendous appeal to the 60-plus million americans classified as obese. >> these are my favorite rings that don't fit anymore. i'm waiting until i can wear them again some day. >> reporter: there are so many nay sayers out there who say, come on. this can't possibly work. >> right. >> reporter: what do you say to them? >> i think that many of us underestimate the real power of the mind. >> reporter: this leading surgeon says he's up sure how long the power of suggestion can work. and she's doing this to lose 150 pounds, basically. is that wise? >> i wouldn't say that it's unwise. i think it may be unrealistic. the reality is, there are no studies which demonstrate that kind of weight loss with hypnosis alone. >> i wanted to share with you
that i'm down ten pounds. >> reporter: aware of the skepticism, clarissa is undaunted. she's been sending us video dire rips of her progress. six weeks later, we dropped in for a visit. all right, that's 20 pounds. how do you feel about that? >> it's awesome. >> reporter: six weeks, 20 pounds, in a year, that's 140 pounds. that's your goal. >> i know. i'm psyched. i can do it. >> reporter: now, she exercises and all her meals, she says, look like this. salad's probably 200 calories maximum. >> i could have more, but i get filled up fast. >> reporter: and already, those family rings that couldn't quite squeeze around those fingers now slip right now. >> i was very happy to get this one on. i'm just thrilled. >> reporter: five more months of passed and clarissa is down more than 40 pounds. she wake weighs less than 300 for the first time in years.
i'm matt gutman for "nightline" in orlando. >> thank you, matt. coming up next -- what would the dude do? inside a "big lebowski" themed religion, with the simple mantra -- take it easy, man. i was afraid you'd have some cut-rate policy. [ kyle ] nope, i've got... [ voice of dennis ] ...the allstate value plan. it's their most affordable car insurance -- and you still get an allstate agent. i too have... [ voice of dennis ]...allstate. [ roger ] same agent and everything. [ kyle ] it's like we're connected. no we're not. yeah we are. no...we're not. ♪ ask an allstate agent about the value plan. are you in good hands? ask an allstate agent about the value plan.
but why doesn't it last? [ male announcer ] even after a cleaning... plaque quickly starts to grow back. introducing crest pro-health clinical rinse. it actually keeps your teeth 91% clean of plaque even at 2 months after a dental visit. new crest pro-health clinical rinse. ♪ [ male announcer ] start with a simple idea. think. drink coffee. design something totally original. do it again. that's good. call in the engineers. call in the car guys. call in the nerds. build a prototype. mold it. shape it. love it. give it a starting price under 16 grand. take it to the track. tweak. tweak. tweak. stop. take it to the car shows. call the critics. call the marketing team. get a celebrity endorser. he's perfect. i am? [ male announcer ] yes, you are. making a groundbreaking car -- it's that easy. ♪
you know, many of the world's great religions began when average men had extraordinary visions. well, the church of the latter day dude began when a guy named oliver got drunk at a cafe in tie land with some buddies and had a vision of a movie called "the big lebowski." in that classic, he found an unlikely savior in the dude, and he found a philosophy that now has, get this, hundreds of thousands of followers, including a few we met on my
afternoon with the dudely lama. if your parents raised you right. then you have a healthy suspicion, guys that wear bath rubes in public. >> you have heard of dudism? our ethos is basically to try to get people to just take it easy, man. >> reporter: especially the ones that start their own religions. but what if this guy actually stumbled into a better way of living? what if the road is a real key to inner peace? who would possibly believe him? well, for starters, anyone who loved "the big lebowski." >> i'm the dude. >> reporter: the 1998 film stars jeff bridges as the dude. an easy going los angeles resident with a fondness for weed and white russians. he enjoys soaking to the recorded sounds of whale calls. and on league night, romming a few frames with his unhinged buddies. but after confused thugs flush his head and pee on his rug. >> not on the rug.
>> reporter: the dude is swept into a gauntlet of mistaken identity persecution. and yet keeps his zen aura. >> careful, man. there's a beverage here. hey! >> reporter: the coen brothers have made better films, but for some reason, this one still resonates. what do you get yelled at the most by people on the street? >> dude! >> reporter: why do you think that that one resonates the way it does? >> such a good movie. >> reporter: there are a number of lebowski-fests around the world, where fans bowl and drink and quote their favorite lines. >> over the line! >> reporter: but when of verl b oliver benjamin saw the film, he saw more than a cult comedy. he saw a religion. with the dude as a transcendent model for modern living. >> we suddenly realized that it doesn't matter if you weren't a success, what society aproves of. what really matters is our own
attitude to life and you can totally control what you felt about your life by not playing into the hands of the deke at the same times of society. >> reporter: he anointed himself the dudely lama and registered the website dudism.com. and today, there are over 160,000 dudist priests. but then, again, it's super easy to join. >> i, state your name, vow. >> i, ben, avow -- >> to take it easy, man. >> reporter: i spent a few hours with oliver and dwayne, his arch dudeship in the church of the latter day dude and i saw first hand why it is the world's slowest growing religion. should you be yelling your message a little louder? >> i have to be honest with you, bill. there's something undude about yelling stuff to people. >> reporter: we did a little dude-ication. >> think of your mind as like a radio. instead of finding the channels, you are trying to find the
static. >> reporter: but after retiring to the little lebowski book shop and downing a little borrowed dude wear of my own, somewhere after partaking of the white russian and watching him lead the sermon by the counter. >> that's one of the main messages, just take it easy, man. >> reporter: i realized he is dead serious. >> it's basically modern daoism. there is a good way to live. a life-affirming way to live. >> reporter: what happens to dudists after they die? don't you want to create a golden bowling alley where the white russians flow. >> no, people won't be living their lives in the here and now. the point is to be as alive as possible. >> reporter: the arch dudeship says that ethos kept him serene during hurricane irene. and it was oliver's community of fellow dudists that fulled him
through when his mom died. >> how many people are in an ordinary church? 100, 200? how many people are in a bowling league? 100, 200? we are always in tribes of people and look out for each other. check out to see what condition my condition is in. >> reporter: so, when you are stressed out in some cubicle, knowing there's a man in a robe hoping you'll take the rest of the day off. for religious purposes. the dude abides. and finally, one weather note. we're keeping our eyes on tropical storm isaac, hitting the dominican republic, haiti and cuban. barrelling towards the u.s. over the weekend. and warnings across south florida and the keeps, could play havoc with the republican convention, coming up. get the very latest on "gma" in the morning or at abcnews.com. and we hope you have a great weekend.